FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) — The National Retail Federation reports that 57% of shoppers will turn to online stores for their holiday purchases this year, opening up opportunities for scammers to take advantage by selling counterfeit items at premium prices.
According to the Better Business Bureau's 2021 Online Purchase Scams Report, which analyzed more than 55,000 online purchase scam reports between 2015-2021, scammers use more than 400 different types of products to perpetrate fraud.
While footwear and apparel were the most common counterfeit items, with Nike as the most frequently used brand, other top brands include NFL clothing, Apple gadgets, Louis Vuitton handbags, Tiffany jewelry, LEGO toys and 3M N95 masks.
In November, the BBB in Texas concluded its investigation into the North Texas-based business Beats by Dr. Dre, which sells products that appear to be Beats by Dre headphones.
Despite listing the business's physical address in Fort Worth, BBB's investigation team determined the Beats by Dr. Dre website is operated by an individual, or individuals, located in China. Reports by consumers indicate that Beats by Dr. Dre requests items to be returned to China to obtain refunds, most of which are never issued.
Over the past year, 10 complaints have been filed against the business, all of which have remained unanswered. In May, one consumer reported, "I purchased four Bluetooth headsets and was suspicious of them being knockoffs, but the price was good for Bluetooth headsets. Once I received the products, it was very obvious they are knockoffs. Extremely poor quality, one of the headsets is physically broken and none of them are Bluetooth."
Officials say unethical and fraudulent businesses often associate themselves with well-known brands and names to convince consumers they are interacting with, and receiving, brand-name products.
The BBB recommends holiday purchasers pay close attention to the name of the business and any signs it may not be an authorized retailer of the brand-name product, including checking with the brand's official website.
The BBB suggests the following tips to steer clear of counterfeit items online:
- Watch for low-priced or mid-priced items for an item typically listed at a much higher price at most retailers. Remember, if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- When searching for a name-brand or popular luxury item, pay close attention to its price and check with official retailers to determine the likelihood of it being offered at the advertised price. If a product is listed at significantly higher prices at authorized retailers or its website than is shown, it is more than likely not authentic.
- Read the website and look for grammatical errors. Typographical errors indicate the site was put together quickly and may not reflect the typical brand messaging you would expect.
- Search for a phone, email address, online chat function, and check to see if there is a brick-and-mortar address for the business. If listed, take the time to call the phone number to verify it is in service and search for the location of the business. Fraudulent companies will often list vacant lots or residential buildings for their physical address.
- Check BBB. If a business displays a BBB Accredited Business seal, verify its legitimacy by going to BBB.org and looking up the company.
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